What caught my attention was the subject of parenting on one channel I’d idly flipped to. I soon became totally engrossed, as I watched the parent in question.
This mother didn’t have a clue she was being filmed for all to see. She was mostly silent, yet communicated so much; her love and affection for her children was real. I watched as she played with them, taught them, fed and bathed them. If necessary, she went without so that they could eat, and anyone who threatened her young did so at their own expense, yet there were times, while I looked on intently, that she had to back down for her children’s safety, times where having no other recourse, she removed them from potentially dangerous situations.
There were also times, as I sat there, utterly engrossed, that her children went hungry; at other times, they had almost too much to eat, yet at no point did she spoil them.
No, she taught them respect at her own hand, never putting up with any attitude, never letting them do whatever they wanted to do. This mother minded her children’s every move; at least one surmised, until they would be old enough to know what moves were right and proper to make.
Sadly, she was not able to protect one; in a moment of real danger, of high stakes few of us ever see, one of her sons was snatched and killed.
At first couldn’t the mother comprehend the fate that had befallen her son, always the unruliest, the most mischievous, the one she’d always known would get into trouble because he’d charged headfirst into danger more than once.
In vain had she tried to make him see sense, and in the end, he made the choice that resulted in him paying the ultimate price.
When his mother did comprehend her loss, she was inconsolable, initially refusing to leave the body of her dead son.
Her other children came and sat with her, for a memorial of the worst kind.
They did their best to comfort her, and eventually, her eyes, so weak with grief before, now hardened with resolve.
She got up, holding her head high and doing what must be done.
For the dead, they are gone; it is the living must be attended to.
It does not pay to ignore one’s other offspring at the expense of their lives…or your own.
Great pain often brings with it great wisdom, and this mother possessed wisdom in abundance.
Wisdom enough to know that her life had not ended anymore than had her other childrens.
So she went back, showing the same love and affection as before.
She survived, and her other children survived.
She saw them through the good and bad times that came, as they must come in every life, and she watched as one by one, they left her to make their own lives.
At no time did she try to prevent their leaving, because it is natural, right, and good that children, once grown, must have their own lives.
If she felt sad or remembered her lost son not one of her children, or those watching knew it.
It was a bittersweet ending, as life often gives us.
I turned off the television, the awe of this mother still strong in my mind while I absently listened to my own youngest two offspring , who were begging to go outside.
I smiled, albeit a bit sadly.
I had lost a son, so I could identify with sadness and wisdom the mother I’d just watched possessed, yet, life waits for no one, so outside I went, with my two youngest sons chattering and laughing eagerly in my ear.
I sat, the book I’d brought out forgotten on my lap while I watched.
I noted three young girls, two young boys, and a gaggle of three other boys, besides my own two, all screaming, laughing, having a great time; not one child over eleven years of age, and some were as young as five.
I was the only parent present.
I looked at the other parents homes; windows and doors firmly closed.
No parents watched these children.
I searched through my memory for the last time I had seen another parent present to supervise their kids and couldn’t remember.
I could remember picking up the youngest girl, who had just turned five, when she fell off her bike; just a few days ago that had been. I’d carried her up to her parents house, and instructed her sister to knock on the door because I don’t walk into homes uninvited.
I got a grudging thanks for my assistance.
Last night, the seven year old boy fell off his bike; he would allow no one to comfort him, screaming over and over for his mother.
Someone finally went and knocked on her door; it took around ten minutes for her to answer it and finally go out to her son, lying there pathetically screaming on the pavement.
This was same son I had seen with his butt quite literally hanging out her car window as she drove out of our neighborhood.
The same son I’d seen only four days ago be shooed out of his house with his two brothers; upon exiting the door, he said “They are either smoking pot, or just need to relax.”
I did tell you he was only seven years of age, didn’t I?
From my vantage point, this gaggle of parents have relaxed all summer; nor is this my experience alone. A neighbor who is as loving a mother and grandmother as I’ve ever seen, noted the absence of parents, all save myself or my husband.
It is little trouble to me, for I have five sons and twenty eight assorted nieces and nephews.
I know how to handle kids.
Fairness, justice, affection, and an open ear and closed mouth do wonders.
I give these neighborhood kids what I can because God knows, their parents won’t.
Yet I am not a saint; not incapable of losing my temper. I’ll admit I smoke…very bad example for kids. I also tell them how disgusting smoking is, emphasizing how every adult is faulty; no one is perfect.
On the occasions my temper has gotten the best of me, I have apologized, and will continue to do so, letting them know I am no saint, but flawed and constantly working to be better; as hard as they must work at their schoolwork.
I let them know are all a work in progress and mistakes are necessary.
Perhaps most crucial of all is being able to see the mistake, and correct it before it bites you in the ass.
These thoughts run loose in my mind, as I sit in porch swing, my eyes sharp, to better observe if everyone is taking turns.
The show I’ve just watched, on Animal Planet.
The superior mother was a lovely cheetah and her brood of cubs.
The rarely present and never caring mother is human.
I don’t find this odd at all.